Monday, March 11, 2019

Evangelicals & Zen Masters

John Cage said, "I was almost forty years old before I discovered what I needed - in Oriental thought... I was starved - I was thirsty. These things had all been in the Protestant Church, but they had been there in a form in which I couldn't use them," (297). Here's an essay of mine on how I made the same discovery, but learned to use them.

Update: Of course, for more on Merton, and the risks, see Alan Jacobs' wonderful article in The New Yorker (and this blog post). William Johnston and the others I mention in the above essay may therefore be better guides in navigating inter-religious terrain, offering essential supplements to Merton. Arise, My Love is Johnston's splendid summa. How I wish I had known of it sooner. And then there's this from The-Ox Herder and the Good Shepherd by Addison Hodges Hart (David Hart's brother):
The classical Christian view (or at least one significant version of it) has been to recognize the divine logos as shaping this common [religious] grammar in a hidden way, and revealing itself definitively in the person of Jesus Christ. Even if those of non-Christian faiths don’t perceive that to be the case, we Christians nevertheless can. If we think about it sufficiently long and hard enough (and assuming we have really encountered the pertinent texts and traditions firsthand and on their own terms, without prejudice or hubris), Why shouldn’t a Christian discern Christ and God say, in the concept of the Tao, or in the words of Krishna to Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita, or in the notion of the Buddha nature? This may even be one more way of understanding how Christ is before all things and in him all things hold together (Col. 1:17)
We therefore should be prepared to wonder whether such moments will be counted among the 10,000 places in which Christ played. But to want more than wonder is greedy, and it's Lent.